Shiny Shelf

Alan Moore’s Yuggoth Cultures and Other Growths #1

By Mark Clapham on 12 November 2003

Avatar have found a good thing in pulling together various fragments of writing from Alan Moore’s career and recycling them in comic book form. This three-part series draws together various horror work by Moore, the main strand being extracts from a lost book, ‘Yuggoth Cultures’, a cycle of Lovecraft-inspired stories.

‘Zaman’s Hill’ is the first of these stories, with a sequential adaptation by Antony Johnston and art by Juan Jose Ryp. As with the previous Avalon adaptation ‘Another Surburban Romance’, Moore’s non-literal, poetic prose doesn’t translate directly to comics form. Instead Ryp’s illustrations accompany the text on the facing page. While the illustrations are good, they don’t directly read across from the text, making this an unusual read. Ryp’s work is superbly detailed and intricate, but as his work on ‘Romance’, his fine linework is presented without colour or shading, which leaves the images lacking depth or texture.

While ‘Zaman’s Hill’ is interesting enough, the issue is dominated by the eight-page ‘Nightjar’ and associated background. ‘Nightjar’ was to have been another Moore-written serial in ‘Warrior’, the British anthology that also saw the first publication of ‘V For Vendetta’ and ‘Marvelman’ (latterly ‘Miracleman’). As ‘V’ is an acknowledged classic which is forever in print, and ‘Marvelman’ has become something of a legend due to its lack of availability (legal issues have prevented a reprint for many years), ‘Nightjar’ could easily have ended up being in that kind of class. As it was, ‘Nightjar’ was never published, and many of the horror and supernatural ideas Moore would have used ended up in ‘Swamp Thing’. In Mirrigan Demdyke, the protagonist of ‘Nightjar’, we have a female precursor to John Constantine, the working class magician Moore created for ‘Swamp Thing’ and who has since spun-off into the long-running ‘Hellblazer’ comic and a forthcoming Keanu Reeves movie.

The other interesting thing about ‘Nightjar’ is that it would have been a collaboration between Moore and artist Bryan Talbot. Moore’s outline for ‘Nightjar’, presented here, emphasises the extent to which Moore wanted to write to the strengths he had seen in Talbot’s work on ‘The Adventures of Luther Arkwright’, and it’s hard not to feel robbed that they only ever worked together on the first instalment of ‘Nightjar’. Moore had only scripted the opener before the project was abandoned, with Talbot having drawn less than half of that episode. Talbot has admirably returned to his work of two decades ago, inking the pencils where needed and drawing the last few pages from scratch. The effect is seamless, and it’s always a pleasure to see Talbot’s art.

As well as the aforementioned outline of the series, provided by Talbot, the artist has also found Moore’s original script, and written a new essay about the whole experience. Together these provide a vision of what might have been, a lost classic from two of comics’ greatest talents. For historical reasons alone, this makes ‘Yuggoth Cultures’ well worth buying.

Line Break

By Mark Clapham

Mark Clapham is a Devon-based writer and editor. You can find out more about him at the egotistically named

Comments are closed.